If Lawrence Shankland suffers from anxiety when playing for Scotland, then he hides it well.

The striker has had the season of his life at club level, banging in 30 goals for Hearts and sweeping the boards in the individual end of season awards. But an uncharacteristic spell of profligacy in front of goal for his country recently had armchair psychologists and pundits alike pontificating that pulling on the dark blue might just be bringing out the yips in the 28-year-old.

Big chances went begging against The Netherlands and Northern Ireland, while he never looked like scoring after starting against Gibraltar in Faro last week. After an ineffective opening 45 minutes against Finland followed, mild concerns about his national team form were starting to morph into full-blown worries that he may not be cut out for football at such a level.

There was never any doubt in his mind, though. Or, as he puts it, his ‘big head’. And when in doubt, as many were during the Finland game, he finds that a good course of action is to put that head to good use, and simply stick it on the end of a cross.

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He hopes to do so again if he gets the nod to start ahead of Che Adams once more this Friday in Munich, surmising that the more forward-thinking Germans may leave more space than he was afforded over Scotland’s last three friendly matches.

Either way, his goal against the Finns has him in good spirits, and if a similar opportunity knocks in Scotland’s biggest game for 30-odd years, the only thing going through his noggin – he hopes – will be the reverberations of the ball making contact before flying beyond Manuel Neuer.

“I was quite relieved to be back off the mark,” Shankland admitted.

“To be honest, there was more relief as I didn’t know where it was going when it came off my head! I was waiting for the crowd reaction. When they cheered it was a good feeling. It’s nice to be amongst the goals.

“I felt I was playing well without scoring, but that is part and parcel of the game. I believe as a striker, if you are playing well the goals will come. Performance-wise, it’s about getting used to the players around you. It’s obviously a change from club level for me, and I’ve not had a lot of opportunities to play with these players. It’s just about getting used to it.

“There is maybe a bit of [anxiety]. It’s a special feeling when you score for Scotland – so I was itching to get it. It was about trying to be calm, trying not to snatch at things. I had one wee opportunity in the first half that I maybe snatched at.

“It was about trying to get into positions again. There were a few times the ball dropped, and I wasn’t there. I tried to address it in the second half and thankfully Andy (Robertson) managed to find me.

“Goals always help confidence. But listen, I’m coming off the back of a 30-plus goal season. That’s why I’m here. The goals haven’t been a problem for me this season so I can come here confident if a chance comes along, I can stick it away.

“I was quite pleased with the way I got on the end of the one the other night as I was quite tightly marked.

“Could there be more space against Germany? We’ll have to wait and see. If a chance comes, hopefully I can get my big head on it!”

The belief that Shankland carries into the monumental task facing Scotland this week is one that is shared by his teammates, and they are hoping that they will be getting the Germans at the best possible juncture.

The opening games in major tournaments have thrown up the odd shock result, after all, with Saudi Arabia stunning eventual world champions Argentina – Lionel Messi and all – at the last World Cup, and Scotland themselves giving the mighty Brazil a major fright back in the opening match of France ’98 before eventually falling just short.

“I’ve seen the Brazil game in documentaries and so on,” he said.

“I was only three so I can’t say I remember it vividly!

“But you see these tournaments all your life and you see plenty of stuff about the ones from before you came along.

“Everyone always tunes into the first game, so for us to be a part of it is pretty special.

“We’ve seen in the past upsets can happen in these games. In tournaments there are always upsets here and there.

“Germany are obviously a strong team. They are the home country, so there will be a lot of expectation on them. We’ll go into it with confidence though. We’ve had big results against the likes of Spain and other good teams. That’s what we are aiming to do again. There will be no inferiority complex – you have to meet the challenge.

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“It’s been hard work to get here. But we are here on merit, and we now need believe we can go and progress from the group.”

The bar for qualification has never been set lower, and with the quality this Scotland possesses, expectations are creeping higher. Could this really be the time that Scotland eventually break through that glass ceiling?

“Why not?” Shankland added.

“We are going there with confidence. You need to believe. You need to have belief we can get out of the group.

“We are going there to properly take part. I wasn’t there last time around but the lads were disappointed how things turned out. The boys are looking to improve on that. It can help with some of the lads having experience of last time. I’m sure the ones where were there will have taken something from it.

“But everyone is in the same boat here. It won’t be easy. These teams are at a major tournament for a reason. But we are going there to be in the mix.

“Everyone is buzzing and looking forward to it now.”